A new international study has shed light on the severe impact that idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) can have on people worldwide.The research, carried out by scientists at Kantar Health, the University of Melbourne in Australia and the US Emory University School of Medicine, aimed to demonstrate the current ‘burden’ of primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures (PGTCS) associated with IGE, a condition that accounts for approximately one-third of all epilepsy cases.More specifically, the study was designed to address a gap in the current understanding of how this form of epilepsy impacts the quality of life, productivity, healthcare resource utilisation and cost burden of patients, and it examined data on people with epilepsy enrolled in the National Health and Wellness Survey, a nationally representative, internet-based survey of adults.People from the US, Europe and Brazil who self-reported a diagnosis of IGE were categorised according to their seizure frequency, and a number of health-related variables were assessed. The results were published in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior.Of the population surveyed, IGE was self-reported in:

  • 782 of 176,093 people from the US
  • 172 of 30,000 people from the UK
  • 106 of 30,001 people from Germany
  • 87 of 30,000 people from France
  • 31 of 12,011 people from Spain
  • 22 of 17,500 people from Italy
  • 34 of 24,000 people from Brazil

Persistent seizures were reported in more than 40% of people with IGE, with 10-15% experiencing one or more seizure per week. Over 75% were treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).Compared to those who experienced one seizure or fewer per year (the reference group), people in the two highest seizure frequency categories reported worse mental and physical health scores. Those in the three highest seizure frequency categories consistently reported worse health-related quality of life scores and greater presenteeism (attending work whilst unwell), as well as experiencing impairments at work and when undertaking other activities.It was also found, overall, to be more costly for healthcare services to treat people who were most severely affected by seizures.The researchers said: “Despite the availability of AEDs during the year surveyed, a substantial number of patients experienced persistent seizures. Increasing seizure frequency was clearly associated with worse outcomes.The burden of PGTCS and IGE may be proportionally reduced by newer AEDs, which may increase the proportion of seizure-free patients or shift more patients into lower seizure frequency categories.”Posted by Anne BrownClick here for more articles about epilepsy statistics and epilepsy treatment in the UK.